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Virgin America Geekiness


I just flew on Virgin America, and was pretty impressed with their cool technology. They have a new media system catered to the youth and the hipsters.

1. There safety video is an amusing animation, which is slightly sarcastic in humor, fun to watch, even twice (JFK<>LAX).virginamerica01.jpg

2. While some airlines have customizable screens, what is really refreshing is that you're not limited to the conventional channels like CNN, which is also offered. You can watch some indie shows, like Current TV, clips from Boing Boing or cable shows Dexter and The Tudors.

3. Another option is to buy a movie. You have a choice from the new releases, indie and foreign films. I didn't see a lot of people use this feature because they were either watching a movie on their laptops or iPods. The people sitting next to me brought their own portable DVD player and headphone jack splitter.

4. Not that I'm a parent or anything, but if you are, and you're worried about your kids watching violent or explicitly sexual content (e.g. while watching Top Model, VH1 broadcasted some lengthy ads that may be sexually explicit, Rock of Love), you can control that here.

5. You can order food with your credit card. While some airlines encourage their passengers to bring exact change or have their passengers wait while the flight attendants find change, Virgin America has a system where you can order food and pay with your credit card. This is such a convenience. The other nice thing about this display is that you can watch continue to watch your show, while you select your food. I would say to order early because when I tried to order potato chips during the latter half of the flight, they were all out (dynamic/real-time tracking). I watched a lot of people use this feature.


6. This system records what shows and songs you listen to, so let's say if you dozed, and wanted to continue watching the shows, you can easily find them here.

7. Interesting controller. One side has the controllers, similar to a remote, just in case people are timid with the touch screen interface. The side of the controller has a magnetic scanner for your credit card, and the back is a full key pad to facilitate chatting between seats, and browsing the internet (not yet working). The keypad feels slightly awkward to type on because of it's elongated shape, and you have to hold down the blue button while simultaneously typing the symbol (I wasn't used to this because my BlackBerry shift button stays put).




8. Another cool feature is the chat between seats. At first, I really didn't understand why anyone would use this because one of the journalist on Current TV boast about meeting that cute dude in aisle 8. And actually the journalist tried several times getting people to chat with her. When I tried the chat room, and I was the only one there. On the flight back, I happen to bump into a friend of mine who was sitting in a different row, and we chatted for awhile. I don't think there is a way of chatting while simultaneously watching a show, but anyway it's a novel feature.

9. I'm not sure if this is a feature yet (multi-player), but it would've been cool to be able to play a game with my friend. I tried playing the clown game three times, but then had to reboot it 3x as well (at least they use Linux). The only thing that I thought was awkward about the game controller is the way you have to press the red button to "start" and the green button to "escape." Other than that, it looks pretty slick.


10. Last but not least, Virgin America promoting cool brands like Google, and Method soap (found in the bathroom). Also, their design of icons have that "web 2.0" aesthetic.


For more larger resolution pix, checkout my Flickr site later. Btw, you can only check in one bag, any additional bags cost $10, which is still relatively cheap, even for an oversized weirdly-shape package.


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